Nowadays, we live in a world where the only constant thing is change. Developments in technology allow the ability to innovate and enhance just about any sector. The yachting industry is no exception.
At Imperial, we provide a full-spectrum approach to all concerns marine: from initial concept, finance, design and construction, to management, charter, maintenance and marketing. Within the past decade, we have become a pioneer in collaborating with companies and shipyards dedicated to the future of yachting. By merging our talents and strengths, we create synergy which provides the foundation for success.
On the occasion of the Superyacht Investor 2020, Eric Lepeingle, Head of Sales & Charter at Imperial, shared his expertise on the Superyacht industry. Find out more about his point of view regarding the challenge of managing large yachts.
The peak of Megayacht, Support Vessel
Imperial has changed the future of the yachting world by delivering some of the most advanced superyachts. What will the market look for in 5-10 years? This is the proactive and inspired approach applied to the superyachts that have been and are being built. Imperial orchestrates the relationship between the client, designer and shipyard. We help push boundaries with the future in mind, to design custom and bespoke vessels that are unlike any other in the world.
Not only the biggest charter yacht on the market, but also joining the top 20 largest superyachts in the world. Flying Fox was delivered in 2019 and has impacted the global market by setting an example of how to live the full yachting experience. It is about having the freedom to, not freedom from. The only limits are the one you set and what nature dictates. It was built with the purpose of avoiding the need for a support vessel and having everything in one.
Support vessels have become an increasingly popular way of extending and upgrading the yachting experience. Yacht owners who cannot afford to combine lengths to create one vessel opt for this. They are made to cater to a clientele who wants more adventure that a traditional yacht cannot offer. The flexibility of having two vessels in your fleet means that the shadow vessel can be used as a tender garage or accommodation for staff. For example, the 6711 delivered by Damen in 2014. She allows her owner to carry a vast range of toys, tenders, submarines without interrupting the luxurious experience on board the mothership.
Looking at the numbers over the decade, there has been a spike in sales and interests especially towards the last few years. Yacht builders, Damen, have recently signed a new order for a 75 meter bespoke support vessel. It will be the largest to date when delivered in 2022. According to Damen Shipyard, within the next 2 years, we will see 4 support vessels built and delivered.
A new decade – the future of the market
Growth in new construction and charter is being driven by how the industry has reciprocated the demands of a constantly evolving business. The changes of taste, thinking and buying have shaped how brokers and builders need to anticipate the future. We have gone from jet skis to submarines to helipads being converted to squash courts and more.
Predictions are for wizards, however the only thing I can say is that shipyards are expanding capacities and are managing a production ramp-up strategy. Middle-sized yachts have jumped and become bigger, therefore in return we can expect the development of 200+ metre projects happening in the next decade.
As a result of constructing larger vessels and support vessels, future owners will continue to seek out new destinations and new platforms for adventure. With a shift in demographic, younger clients are looking for more experience-led, both with itineraries and activities.
Wanderlust also comes with a desire to be environmentally conscious. Our oceans, marine life and the surrounding shores are under threat. Today, superyacht owners are more in tune with the climate change around us and therefore request or are open to innovative engineering solutions or sustainable yacht designs – wanting to reduce their yachting footprint.
From my past experiences, I believe that the market is driven by cycles. Whether that be financial cycles or build time cycles. Today I find clients wanting more transparency with their broker in terms of value for money – what can we bring to the table? In addition, more precise and relevant information such as open book on costs or reporting on build activity. Managing a client’s needs and expectations when buying can be tough, however listen to their wants and needs of why they are buying a boat, process, enhance their thoughts and ideas with your expertise background and deliver.
Managing mega-yachts is very similar to managing a company and if you can manage one business well, most likely you can manage any business well! In this industry, you will need to be dynamic and flexible to accept the changing needs and its demand patterns. It is imperative for us to provide good management in buying, building, chartering and day to day operations to assure stress-free yachting. When managing a superyacht, the most important thing is to prevent asset devaluation, creating a healthy profit for owners and protection of the client’s stake. We trust in long-vision management and a good yield – not just in terms of finance but ways to capitalize on new and different ideas to maintain an element of adventure in business. The industry is driven by individual values, and everyone needs to identify their own code of conduct.
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